Rugby-Lions starved of chances in disappointing second half, says Gatland

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - South Africa A v British and Irish Lions - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa - July 14, 2021 British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The British & Irish Lions were starved of opportunities in the second half and will thoroughly review Saturday's 27-9 defeat in the second test against South Africa before considering any changes for next weekend's decisive game, coach Warren Gatland said.

South Africa came back from 9-6 down after an ill-tempered first half to dominate the Lions and level the series, setting up a potentially thrilling decider at the Cape Town Stadium.

"Going into halftime, we felt that we carried well, got some forward momentum but just didn’t achieve that at all in the second half,” Gatland told a post-match news conference.

“We didn’t have any momentum, no real opportunity to play, nothing at all from any kick returns, whether it was us or them and that was disappointing.

“We’ve given away some penalties. In fairness to them, they’ve scrummaged pretty well in the second half, drove a lot and got some reward from that. The players are obviously very disappointed."

Gatland said the Lions would now review the performance but hinted at changes for the decisive test.

"Next Saturday is now a cup final and that’s the way we’ve got to look at it and prepare. They are a few things we have to tidy up in terms of our game.

"We will look at individuals and decide ‘do we need to make some changes?’ But there are players who did not play that will come into contention.”

The build up to the test had been overshadowed by complaints about the first test referee made by South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and the tension between the two camps was evident.

Asked what he thought of Erasmus’ lengthy video criticism of the first test officiating, Gatland said: “I thought it was pretty interesting but there’s been enough said about that.

“I won’t be going on social media this week. I don’t really want to comment on that. I want other people to take care of that. The last thing we need is a war of words and being accused of doing certain things.

“It’s amazing to me how the narrative changed regarding the TMO (television match official). I didn’t make one comment leading up to the game last week on the TMO and yet I was accused of questioning his integrity,” he complained.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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